I used to own goats. And as you all know, goats get out. And when they’re out they do bad things, like dance on the roof of your neighbor’s car. Or you get calls from folks like, “Kathy, you need to come down to the base. The goats are out and they’re eating the general’s flowers.” That was a Saturday and my husband and I drove the 2 hours to the National Guard Training Facility where my herd of 50 goats was supposed to be working on building fire breaks. It was hot and dusty, and my husband was pretty sure that this was going to be another goat rodeo to get them back in. But my herd knew the routine and my truck. So when I showed up, they followed the truck as he drove it back to their pen, and I followed behind, herding them when they paused for another snack.
My goats taught me early on that getting all excited, yelling and running around, only reduced my chances that they’d go back in their pen easily. And that caused a lot of stress for me. On the other hand, if I approached them calmly, positioned myself the right way, and walked from side to side, they’d head back where I needed them to be, and even be so helpful as to show me the break in the fence they’d escaped through.
It’s a lesson I carried with me when I started working with cattle. What the animals had taught me was reinforced by a workshop I took with Bud Williams in Texas some years back. It reinforced that by being quiet, paying attention to the animals, and approaching them in ways that corresponded with how they see the world, I could be a lot less stressed when it came to moving and working with livestock.
Thanks for reading!
Kathy and Rachel